Tag Archives: Social Media

How Twitter Could Monetize Their Service

Twitter Sidebar AdTwitter has been growing rapidly. As I write this, they have passed the 8 million mark for unique visitors to their website, according to Compete.com. (And how many people use desktop clients, cellphones, etc. for their day-to-day tweeting?)

The question that has been brought up countless times throughout last year was “how will Twitter make money?” It’s obvious that they need to find a way to monetize the service before it all falls apart, and they have said that they have plans. But what are they? There are reports that text ads might be part of their master plan, and I’ve seen the tiny ads myself.

What they have right now might work, providing Twitter handles ad sales themselves and avoids selling them on a CPC basis. Advertisers might pay for something like that, despite how out-of-the-way and diminutive the ad blocks are. (Though they are above the fold, and near the username and follower stats, which is a plus.)

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Twitter Background Design

Spoon Graphics has a new post on how to stand out on Twitter: Twitter Background Design How-To and Best Practices.

With Twitter quickly becoming the hottest site to be seen on, everyone wants to stand out from the crowd. There has already been a range of quality designs showcased on various sites, which has shown an emergence of trends such as the ‘sidebar’. Let’s take a look at some of the best practices around Twitter background design and get to work creating our own.

It covers how to make a striking Twitter background, teaches best practices, and includes plenty of examples and inspiration. If you’re at all into Twitter, it’s definitely worth a look.

Several approaches are mentioned, and there are plenty of tips and suggestions throughout the article.

If you have a copy of Photoshop, or a similarly equipped graphics editor, you should be able to follow the tutorial portion and end up with a background that will set you apart from the masses of pre-built themes and badly-tiled background graphics.

BurnURL: Social URL Shortening

BurnURL LogoSince TinyURL made the concept of URL-shortening huge, and since Twitter has made it more important than ever, there have been a lot of sites springing up and offering similar services. There’s the ultra-tiny is.gd, the statistic-centric TweetBurner, and a smattering of other TinyURL clones. Heck, it’s not that hard to roll your own private URL shortener if you have a reasonably short domain. (You could use GoCodes…)

Yet another shortener has sprung up, and this one is a bit different.

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Twhirl: A Lightweight Twitter Client

Twhirl is my Twitter client of choice. It’s lightweight and it has a respectful feature set. Twhirl runs on Adobe AIR, and therefore will work on Windows and Mac OS X. (Linux too, but if I remember correctly, Adobe AIR is a little buggy on Linux.)

Twhirl notifies you of incoming tweets, marks those you haven’t read yet, and offers Friendfeed support as well as Twitter. It has several URL shortening options built-in, including the very short Is.gd, and TwitPic support exists.

A handy “Retweet” function is included along with the Reply and Direct message buttons.

Nearly any day-to-day Twitter task can be done through Twhirl. It’s a simple and elegant solution for desktop Twitter usage, and one I highly recommend.

Tweet Later: Schedule Twitter Postings For the Future

Have you ever wanted to say something on Twitter, but not right at that moment? Maybe you wanted to wish your followers a happy new year right at midnight, for an obvious example.

Tweet Later allows you to do just that. After you tie at least one Twitter account to the service, you can create an infinite number of messages to be posted at a later date. Want to put your business Twitter on autopilot while you’re out of town? No problem.


The service does more than tweet scheduling, as an added bonus. It can auto-follow new followers, send new followers welcome messages, send you email digests of @replies, and track tweets with certain keywords. “Twitter Toolbox” would be a more accurate name.

While not everyone needs to schedule tweets, some people certainly have reason to, and Tweet Later would be a valuable asset to them.

“Twittar” Twitter Avatar Plugin

Smashing Magazine has released an interesting WordPress plugin called “Twittar.” The plugin, named for “Twitter Avatar,” is used in place of WordPress’s Gravatar template tag. When a comment is displayed, the plugin will check to see if the email address left matches a Twitter account, and will add the user’s avatar to the comment. Should they not have a Twitter account, it will check for a Gravatar instead.

This is an interesting idea, though some users have commented upon the plugin’s performance. It’s not terribly efficient, making two HTTP requests per comment server-side, and then the client loads the image. A solution is being considered, probably some sort of caching.

I quite like the idea, though I think it should have the option of changing the order of precedence for the avatars, so Gravatars could be favored over Twitter avatars. My Twitter avatar is the same as my Gravatar, but since Gravatars are more known for being “comment avatars,” it makes sense that some people would expect their Gravatar to load instead of their Twitter picture.

Start a Twitter Group With Twittbot

Twittbot is an interesting Twitter companion service that allows you to create Twitter groups. First you create a new Twitter account to represent your group. Then you head over to Twittbot and bind the Twitter account to a Twittbot, picking a security level (anyone can post, or just a few invited users can post). Now anyone (or anyone with permission, depending on your security type) can @reply your group account, and the message will be reposted to the group account.

I heard about this interesting service via Darren Rowse’s TwiTip blog, and decided to check it out. I set it up, and created the open @webmasterlinks group. The group is a place to share links that would be of interest to Webmaster-Source readers via Twitter. If you find something worthy of webmasters’ interest online, or if you create such a thing, by all means tweet it to @webmasterlinks. I follow the group, and if something catches my attention it may earn a mention on Webmaster-Source, or a retweet at least.

iBegin Share

Social media has really taken off in recent years. Few major blogs don’t have some sort of widget or icon on permalink pages to promote Digging, Stumbling, or whatever. Many blogs go nuts and have 26 different social bookmarking icons in a row beneath posts. Talk about clutter.

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StumbleUpon 2.0: Where is this Going?

Apparently, StumbleUpon will be throwing the switch on some major changes soon, and changing how users interact with the service. The software toolbar will no longer be necessary (they had better keep it though!), some new options for publishers will be introduced, etc.

On Tuesday night StumbleUpon is changing the way users interact with the service, ditching the need for a software-based browser toolbar in place of a small frame that loads on top of the Web site you’re on. Users with the toolbar installed will still be getting the same experience, but the idea is that anyone can begin stumbling without having to install anything.

To get the Web toolbar to show up in the first place, users must now begin their stumbling experience from the StumbleUpon home page. The site is now broken up into categories. Once you’ve clicked on a link the experience begins, with the persistent toolbar following you from site to site and keeping track of your ratings to provide you with new stumbles.

You can read the full article over at CNET: StumbleUpon 2.0: Good-bye, software toolbar.

I have a few concerns about this…

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Elgg – Build Your Own Social Network

Social networking sites like Facebook are being used by a huge amount of people (by huge, I mean huge). A problem they seem to be plagued by is that anyone and everyone can use them. They’re full of people with completely different interests, they’re mainly used to play silly games and “poke” people, and overall they’re big time wasters. Their root use has been overshadowed by everything else. What is a social networking site for? Connecting and communicating with people.

What we need are more topical social networking sites. Sites that are intended to be used by people with a given set of interests. I’m not saying large-scale sites like Facebook are a bad idea, but I think niche sites are a good idea as well.

That’s where Elgg.org comes in.

Elgg is an open, flexible social networking engine, designed to run at the heart of any socially-aware application. Building on Elgg is easy, and because the engine handles common web application and social functionality for you, you can concentrate on developing your idea.

Overall it’s got a Facebook-like feel to it, offering users profiles and dashboards, blogging, bookmarking, forums, OpenSocial applications, etc. It even has APIs.

I’ve yet to try out an install of it yet, but it looks like a great open-source script.